I've never driven cattle herds across the great outback
nor sat astride a favoured mare along a bushmans track.
I've never picked a guiding star above the fire at night,
enjoyed the wonder of the sounds so far beyond my sight.
I've never watched the morning sun rise up to meet the sky
to bake the hardy Spinifex that just refused to die.
and never saw the evening glow drape over dusty plain
to cloud me in a velvet cloak as darkness fell again.
My life was filled with city streets and choking traffic fumes,
with non-descript, square, boxy homes, and tiny little rooms;
I looked upon a plain brick wall outside my windowpane
and hated all the muddy mess that followed winter rain.
I worked behind a desk all day with walls two feet away;
and answered phones and typed out words to earn my weekly pay.
I sat alone within my car on crowded freeway lanes
then, once at home I'd hide behind the strength of lock and chains.
But often when the days were fine, I'd wander to the park
and there I'd find my solace underneath a paperbark.
A book of verse by Ogilvie called Saddle for a Throne
would take my mind to places that I only wish I'd known.
I drifted with the souls that lie in lonely graves out west
and gently placed a single bloom upon their place of rest.
I felt the strength and power of the racing Rosalind
as we sought to greet the rising sun against the morning wind.
I rode beside the cattlemen and joined their lonely camp
and snuggled under canvas when the night was cold and damp.
I felt the silent magic of a chilly outback dawn
and watched her ride the Rebel as another tale was born.
My mind was filled with wonder as I read that treasured verse
and took a special journey through a country so diverse.
So thank you Will for sharing all the places you have known
as I recall the beauty of 'A Saddle for A Throne'.
(c) Irene Conner 11/05/06
Across the lonely common room I see you sitting there,
a shrunken ghost of younger days, no family to care.
I see the wrinkled skin that tears with ev'ry careless grip,
the useless hand, the twisted leg; the endless dribbling lip.
I watch you in your silent world as people come and go
and sorrow for the loss of tales that now we'll never know.
You cannot speak to ask for help, nor tell us how you feel
but underneath the outward wreck, who knows what you conceal?
I've seen the well worn hat that sits upon your greying hair;
the moleskins folded in your room you never get to wear.
I've seen your battered riding boots that once adorned your feet;
the calloused hands that tell of work in dust, and dirt and heat.
I'd love to sit and hold your hand and talk to you awhile
and let you know that someone cares enough to make you smile.
I'd love to listen to the yarns you've gathered through the years;
to know the stories that have fed your laughter and your tears.
Were you among the drovers who would travel dusty plains,
who slept beneath the canvas in the midst of winter rains;
a cattleman who did it hard, from sunrise through to dusk,
a man who never wasted words aloof and sometimes brusque?
Perhaps you were a horseman who was known throughout the land
for skill within the saddle, and a gentle, kindly hand.
A man who raced with brumbys over mountainside and plain,
who held his pony steady with the lightest touch of rein.
I wonder if you'd tell of droughts that wither scrub and grass,
of cattle that lay dying on the tracks o'er which you pass,
of waterholes that shrink beneath the harsh relentless sun;
the dying throes of wildlife you must silence with your gun.
Or have you fought the waters of a raging, swirling flood
that left your land beneath a coat of slowly drying mud;
that took away your livelihood your crops and all your sheep
and forced a change of life so you could try to earn your keep?
Perhaps you travelled outback trails with wagon, kids and wife,
or maybe you could tell us of a lonely swaggies life.
And have you lost a family for whom you'll always care?
It seems I'll always wonder as I see you sitting there.
Copyright I Conner 20/01/07